AUTHOR’S NOTE: My sincerest apologies for the cheesy title, especially for those of you who are now stuck with the old campfire song running through your heads as you read an obviously tragic chapter. (Jump, lady, jump!)
All too soon, the Milito-Paz family had left behind the hot copper sun of Egypt, and returned to their cold, wintry city. Their lives resumed as usual, filled with work and school and friends and activities.
“Will you take me back to Egypt one day, Grandpa?” she asked him.
Ari smiled. “Of course. Maybe when you turn sixteen.”
“Fire!” Ari yelled. “Someone help! Fire!” Without thinking, he grabbed a nearby dishtowel and tried to beat back the flames.
John Tyler pulled into the garage, unaware of the fire raging above his head. He did, however, hear his dad’s muffled cries and headed upstairs to investigate. By that time, the fire had spread, and the flames surrounded Ari, licking at him with blazing waves of heat.
“Call the fire department!” Ari waved his arms, his eyes wide with panic. “Hurry, John Tyler!”
Just then, Marisol rushed in, panting. She, too, had noticed the smoke rising from the garage roof. She spotted her husband in the flames and leapt toward him. “Ari!” She tried to fan away the flames and pull him out. “Ari!”
John Tyler, who had been staring in horror, whipped out his cell phone and dialed the fire department. “Please, hurry, please!” he begged the fire department. Then he turned and fled the apartment, choking on the thick, dark smoke.
The fire trucks arrived within moments, but it was too late. Ari and Marisol had been engulfed by the flames. There was nothing left of Rosa and John Tyler’s parents but two small, charred piles of ash.
They were gone.
The entire town was hit hard by the deaths of such a young, wealthy, and talented couple. On the day of their funeral, schools and businesses were closed for a day of mourning and remembrance. Rosa and John Tyler buried the ashes of their parents in the garden behind their home, along with their mother’s cello and their father’s favorite football.
“I’m so sorry about your family.” Wendy, who had come to the funeral, hugged and consoled John Tyler. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“I won’t,” Wendy promised. And she never did.